The Avengers: Ten Things You Should Know

Saturday night, my son and I left the house an hour early to catch a local screening of The Avengers.  I figured that the theater would be fairly crowded, and I have a long-running fear of having to sit in one of the penalty rows in front of the screen, generally reserved for late arrivals.

We got to the theater at 4:45 for the 5:40 show. When we arrived, there was a line of people roughly 50 deep waiting to get into our one-of-16 screen local cineplex. I don’t know the weekend box office numbers yet, but the final stats should place The Avengers somewhere between the last Harry Potter movie and “are you f-ing kidding me?”

I went into this movie, as I do all comic movies, with a little more working knowledge than the average citizen. For a kid weaned on Avengers comics, seeing this movie was kind of like  getting a lifetime achievement award for being a dork.

Here are my thoughts:

1. This is the best Hulk movie to date. Mark Ruffalo was something Eric Bana and Ed Norton weren’t: a likeable Bruce Banner. As for the Jolly Green Giant, he smashes a lot of stuff, and its done to great comic effect in a few sequences. Though The Avengers was a leap forward for Hulk, I’m still not sure he deserves a third solo film. He plays much better in an ensemble.

2. The plot is flimsy. The MacGuffin of the film, the dreaded COSMIC CUBE, drives Thor’s wicked half-brother, Loki, to lead an army through a wormhole in an effort to subjugate humanity.

The nice thing about the movie, however, is that every time I started to linger on some of the plot’s silliness, I was distracted by something much more interesting or awesome on the screen. Which brings me to the point that…

 3. The Avengers is a truly fun movie to watch. Credit Joss Whedon for two and a half hours worth of verbal interplay worth quoting around the water cooler:

Thor: He’s my brother.
Black Widow: He killed 80 people in two days.
Thor: He’s adopted.

4. There are no Easter eggs. The Marvel movies leading up to The Avengers: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America, were loaded with in-references and hints of the larger Marvel universe. I scrutinized every computer monitor and piece of scenery in the movie and came up with nothing. After years of being conditioned to look for that kind of stuff, there was nothing to find. I was hoping for at least a nod to some of the “classic” Avengers like Ant-Man, Wasp, Vision, and Black Panther.

5. Captain America sucks. I went into the movie expecting Black Widow or Hawkeye to be the weak link of the team, but holy hell, Chris Evans has zero charisma.

6. The final battle scene is pretty epic, in the non-overused sense of the word. Seeing the assembled team take on Loki and his Chitauri minions–while destroying New York City in the process–was big fun to watch.

7. Before we get the big fight at the end, we’re treated to a dozen mini-fights, most of which pit Avenger vs. Avenger. The three-way between Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America was pure fan service and wholly kickass.

8. While there were no Easter eggs, there were two post-movie scenes. The first one is placed fairly early in the credits sequence, and the other runs after the credits have finished. You don’t need to stay until the bitter end, but I was happy I did.

9. Nick Fury finally kicks some ass. After seeing Samuel L. Jackson’s Fury pop up as a cameo player in the lead-in movies, it was nice to see him do more than talk.

10. The ensemble cast never feels too crowded. One of the film’s greatest achievements is that it allowed each one the principal characters to shine. Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Black Widow, Nick Fury … each got a respectable amount of character development–no small feat for a team movie like this.


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